Customer Experience

How to use social media to engage customers

Anneli Knight
Smarter Writer

Anneli Knight is a journalist, writer and academic with a background in law and finance. She lives in Byron Bay

Anneli Knight
Smarter Writer

Anneli Knight is a journalist, writer and academic with a background in law and finance. She lives in Byron Bay

When you engage your customers via social media, you’re speaking to them while they’re immersed in their lives, sometimes in places as intimate as their bedroom. Here’s how to reach customers so your message is heard.

Making contact via social media, you should know where they are and when, and give them truthful content that is beautiful, relevant and meaningful. It might be a relief to know that making mistakes shows authenticity, and is an important part of the process.

Social network drawing with textas around it

Marketing schmarketing

The chief marketing role is dead, says Liza Boston, head of digital media agency Boston Digital, and the co-founder of Soundhalo, a music platform designed to get quality live music recordings from the stage straight to the smartphones of music-lovers.

“The new role is a hybrid between the CMO [chief marketing officer] and CTO [chief technology officer],” says Liza. “They need to have an intimate knowledge of devices and device usage, know the differences between operating systems, devices, apps and platforms and how they can integrate with social,” she says.

“There’s a big gap in the market with those kinds of skill sets because traditional media doesn’t work solely as an engagement tool. Customers would rather get an experience or reward – an offer that is targeted to their interests. They would rather a curated playlist delivered to their smartphone than have a print ad shoved in their face.

“Social media is all about authenticity and being true to your brand values, whatever they are.”

Liza Boston, cofounder of Soundhalo

Here are Liza’s top tips for engaging customers with social media:

1. Understand how and when your consumers are connecting with social

This is really targeted and nuanced. Brands also need to understand the digital lifestyles of your consumers and how to infiltrate that in a meaningful way. The old style is about jamming it down a tube to you-don’t-know-who.

A brand should consider what the customer is up to, for example: They’re about to walk into a music festival, they’re taking a selfie, about to post it on Facebook or Twitter, and as they do this, the festival alerts the customer to the release of a piece of new content from their favourite artist. The content is socially shareable and will create social currency for the user.

This kind of strategy is really thought out by the brand, six to 12 months in advance.

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2. It has to have relevance, context, beauty and meaning

Peer-to-peer sharing is now the Holy Grail and engaging customers through social media is about making art and technology collide.

Lots of thought must go into the creative: the audio, the imagery. It offers a great opportunity to engage local artists and creators, comedians, poets, writers, musicians, visual artists and videographers. It doesn’t have to be an expensive production, as long as it is targeted content in the right context.

When a brand gets it right, they not only engage their customer, they start a story that the community will continue to build upon with user-generated content.

See examples on how brands such as Oreo, Footlocker and Burton Snowboards create communities using Instagram’s video app Hyperlapse

3. Be willing to take risks

Social media is constantly evolving and successful engagement is about being prepared to be one of the first to jump on a new platform.

Taking risks and being first also means you won’t always get it right, and that’s okay. It’s about being open and honest. In life, when you’re talking to someone, if you’re not authentic then you’ll be disregarded straight away. If you’re using social, you have to become a friend, you have to be trustworthy. Humans don’t get it right all the time and you have to be ready to have a bit of fun with that. 

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